Managing Australia’s Skills Shortage

Tuesday March 8, 2022

After two years of enduring a global pandemic, Australia is suffering from a very real skills shortage, with many businesses struggling as a result. In fact, KPMG’s post-COVID-19 CIO survey showed that 62% of respondents believe the skills shortage is preventing their organisation from keeping up with the pace of change.

A second survey from Australian CEOs showed that 73% of chief executive officers are anticipating difficulties in finding and retaining talent in 2022, because of ongoing staff shortages in Australia, exacerbated by the outbreak of the Omicron variant.

When border restrictions restricted the entry of skilled migrant workers into Australia, the supply of skilled labour shrunk considerably. On top of this, health issues and isolation requirements have had an enormous influence on our local workforce, leaving large gaps in many businesses.

Where, then, does that leave Australian businesses struggling to find skilled talent? Rather than admitting defeating, we believe employers should see the current skills shortage as a challenge rather than an insurmountable problem. With a little bit of lateral thinking and support from your HR Dept, the skills shortage can be addressed and resolved.

  1. Redesign positions within your current workforce

If filling gaps in your business through traditional recruitment is difficult, consider shaking things up within your current workforce. Take a look at the talents of your existing employees and ask yourself if – with the right training and a little bit of mentoring and support – the skills you need are already right under your nose!

  1. Utilise contract and freelance workers

Contract and freelance workers are more readily available, and can be employed in response to changing workflows. Research has shown that contractors and freelancers tend to be more productive in the workplace than full-time employees, too. You may even build such a relationship with a contractor that they want to stay on in a full-time, permanent position.

  1. Upskill your workforce

Investing in employee learning and development always leads to better business outcomes. In fact, 60% of CEOs believe a strong upskilling program positively impacts their company’s culture.

Companies will be better able to survive the skills shortage in Australia by upskilling their current workforce, particularly in areas of digital technology.

  1. Take recruitment risks

It sounds risky, but thinking outside the box when it comes to recruitment could yield great business success. In real terms, this means recruiting a “wildcard” candidate who, on paper, may not fit the recruitment criteria.

On the other hand, with the right training and support, this candidate could end up being your business’ greatest asset. It could be worth stepping outside your business’ comfort zone to see what happens when you take a recruitment risk.

If nothing else, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses to think differently about recruitment, with possibly exciting results. If you’d like to know more about recruiting during the current skills shortage, have a chat to the team at the HR Dept. We’re here to help.

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